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Tag "exhibition"

At the AA School in London a new exhibition is opening on the 7 Mai, with a focus on ‘Spatial Form in Social and Aesthetic Processes’. The exhibition follows an earlier symposium held in OCtober 2010 also at the AA School, with a very extensive list of speakers and topics like Social Contracts, Relational Space, Sensory Engagement and Perception and Cognition. These events are organised by Concrete Geometries, an ongoing interdisciplinary AA research initiative, investigating the social and experiential value of architectural form – its relational potential.

Concrete (adjective): capable of being perceived by the senses; not abstract or imaginary
Geometry (noun): a part of mathematics concerned with questions of size, shape, relative position of figures and with properties of space

Image taken from Kallaway / Dymaxion Sleep – Jane Hutton and Adrian Blackwell, Canada
An installation in the public realm. A structure of nets suspended over a field of aromatic plants
Credit: © Jane Hutton and Adrian Blackwell.

As Marianne Mueller, one of the directors of ‘Concrete Geometries’ and Diploma Unit Master at the AA School, explains: “‘Concrete Geometries’ is investigating the intimate relationship between spatial form and human processes – be they social or aesthetic – and the variety of new material entities this relationship might provoke. By bringing together art, architecture, sciences and humanities, the cluster aims to provide a platform beyond disciplinary boundaries.”

Some of these topics have been brushed on for example in the book ‘Installations by Architects‘ by Princeton Architectural Press. And this exhibition in a very engaging way continues this line of practice of very concrete and to a great extend practical investigation method.

“A corridor, so narrow that strangers brush shoulders; a platform through a densely inhabited house, changing the relationship between inhabitant and visitor; a room reshaped through a graphic pattern; a space under a motorway, sloped in a way that it is rendered useless for those who need it most.”

Voussoir Cloud
Image taken from Compute Schottland / Voussoir Cloud – Iwamoto Scott Architecture, USA. A site-specific installation consisting of a system of vaults, exploring the structural pardigm of pure compression coupled with an ultra-light material system. Credit: © Iwamoto Scott Architecture

With works by BAR Architekten, Barkow Leibinger, Adrian Blackwell + Jane Hutton, Brandlhuber + ERA Emde Schneider, Fran Cottell, Anthony Coleman, Easton+Combs, Lukas Einsele, Bettina Gerhold, Jaime Gili, Susanne Hofmann/Baupiloten, IwamotoScott, Graziela Kunsch & Rafi Segal, Christine Rusche, Kai Schiemenz, SMAQ, SPAN Architecture & Design, Atelier Tekuto, Studio Elmo Vermijs and Vincent Wittenberg. Words by Matthias Ballestrem, Kathrin Böhm/public works, Isabelle Doucet and Toni Kotnik,
The exhibition has been supported by CCW Graduate School, the Embassy of the Netherlands and the Austrian Cultural Forum in London.

Marianne Mueller explains: “The aim of Concrete Geometries, part of the AA School Research Cluster Programmes, is to transform how architects think about the creation of space and how it is used for everyday life. This topic seems quite an obvious thing to be exploring, but it is not a discussion that is being held in architecture today. By involving designers and artists we are able to rethink our practice on the creation of space. Digital design has provided architects with new tools to experiment with the use of space. We need to challenges our current thinking of space and how we as architects create it.”

Exhibition on from 7th Mai to 28th Mai 2011, Mon–Fri 10am–7pm, Sat 10am–3pm

Connecting Corridor
Image taken from Compute Schottland / Connecting Corridor – Elmo Vermijs Studio, Netherlands. An installation connecting two buildings, the chosen form of which causes people to unexpectedly run into one another, Credit: © Elmo Vermijs Studio

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The American Trade Center used to be extremely promotionally active around Europe to promote and showcase American products and innovation. The tool was a set of exhibitions in European capital cities such as Milan, Stockholm, Paris and Frankfurt from 1963 1978. It was held in the folowing up of the Marshall Plan to suport and strengthen Europe’s economic foundation.

Image taken by urbanTick / Art work by Lanfranco Bombelli for the US Trade Centre Exhibitions.

Lanfranco Bombelli was commissioned to design each exhibition. He started earlier, around 1950, to work for the US Government as an pavilion architect, together with Peter Harnden.

Actar has published a catalog Lanfranco Bombelli – US Trade Centre Graphics in Europe for the exhibition with the same title at the Arts Santa Mònica. The exhibition featured an instalation by Tom Carr. You can see some images from the exhibition set up process HERE.

Image taken by urbanTick / Art work by Lanfranco Bombelli for the US Trade Centre Exhibitions.

The US trade shows run on a very tight schedule four exhibitions per month. Bombelli worked on each for five days, spends two days for the design and three for the production. This publication covers his graphics work, both for the exhibitions spaces and for the posters and flyers.

In an awesome little book these graphical works are here summarised. Very little text lets them speak for themselves. Bombelis art, was as the catalog points out, “based on geometrical compositions and inspired by mathematical principles”. The cear shapes, the fitting colours and the linear arrangements are standing in for the perfect graphical language even though they are produced as art works. It fits perfect with the current visualisation trend and can be put in line with recent publication such as Otto Neurath by Nai Publishers or Gerd Arntz by 010. However while the Neurath and Arntz both were interested in the characterisation of representation, Bombelli is illustrating and interpreting, not developing an ordering system but a visual communication language.

Image taken by urbanTick / Art work by Lanfranco Bombelli for the US Trade Centre Exhibitions.

Carr, T. & Altaio, V., 2009. Lanfranco Bombelli: US Trade Center Graphics in Europe Bilingual., Barcelona: Actar.

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Every now and then one walks into a piece of art that is really fascinating. Usually this happens when lest expected or one expects nothing at all. So it happend only this weekend upon a visit to the Tate Modern.

While the large Turbine Hall is currently empty awaiting the upcoming installation of the Unilever Series by Ai Weiwei to open on 12 October 2010, there was (last day on the 05.09.10) an exhibition on by the Belgian artist Francis Alys. The exhibition was under the title ‘A Story of Deception’.

Image by urbanTick / The video installation ‘Nightwatch’ by the artist Francis Alÿs. Francis Alÿs’ The Nightwatch was made by releasing a fox into London’s National Portrait Gallery and following its movement through the galleries using the museum’s CCTV system.

As the Tate introduces the artist: “Alÿs’s work starts with a simple action, either by him or others, which is then documented in a range of media. Alÿs explores subjects such as modernising programmes in Latin America and border zones in areas of conflict, often asking about the relevance of poetic acts in politicised situations. He has used video projection and film but also spreads his ideas through postcards. Painting and drawing remain central to his work too.”

For me the surprising moment came with the work ‘Nightwatch’, a video installation with 20 monitors all showing recordings of different surveillance cameras at the British National Gallery. It is quite a arge installation, but at the same time very simple and quite. The empty rooms the calm after the daily storm of thousands of visitors. It was not so much the ‘Night at the Museum’ type of reference that came up, but more the sort of ‘A Dogs Night’ type of idea.

And yes there it is a fox enters one of the rooms. It sniffs here and there tries this corner, sneaks round the bench and off in to the next room. It appears on the next screen where it goes straight through into the following room, exploring. Quite exciting this must be, not only for the fox but for the director and the insurance representative.

Image taken from the Guardian / A fox on a London street: the highest density of foxes is now found in our cities. Photograph: BIGPICTURESPHOTO.COM

The work is explained as a piece to comment on the rising numbers of CCTV cameras that watch our every moves. There are now more cameras installed in London than anywhere else on earth and counting. The discussion is ongoing, but as the artist righty points out this sort of ‘urban infrastructure’ has already grown into our experience so much as a certain acceptance level is reached. It is no longer questioned or discussed, it is taken for a fact or only raised if it is not present. The promised security that comes with it as a label is enough of a promis.

For me this is one side of the work, but there is another more poetic side to the fact that the fox has come to see and there i something going on while we are not there. It is not just left empty, clean and tidy awaiting the next mornings bus load of tourists. The gallery has an afterlife, something hidden, beautiful and promising. Instead it points at a more complex whole where the view the individual has is only part of the picture. It needs at least twenty views and even then we loose track of the fox as it trails of into not displayed spaces of the house.

Image taken from askbiblitz / Reynard the Fox at the court of King Noble, celebrated Biblitz forebear, by Wilhelm von Kaulbach, from Geothe’s Reineke Fuchs, 1846, the frontispiece of a new Biblitz favorite, In Praise of Flattery by Willis Goth Regier.

The fox also stands for a number of things, not only as recently here in the local and national news portrayed return of the wile animals to the urban desert. This aspect of the adjusting wild animals is one side, but the fox also stands for a clever and very sly animal character. It has both wily and villain sides to it. THat it survives or even thrives in urban areas is not at a surprising. already in very old stories of fables the fox character often coexists or even overtakes the humans if not destroyed with brut force as in for example fox hunting.

The discussion around the private or public domain and the ‘public observation’ of space as in CCTV, in this sense makes perfect sense in combination with a fox. As a quote form (Robert Darnton, “Peasants tell tales: the meaning of Mother Goose” in The great cat massacre and other episodes in French cultural history. N.Y.: Vintage Basic Books, (1984)) demonstrates: “Some historians argue that the fox came to symbolize the survival strategies of European peasantry from the Medieval period to the French Revolution. Peasants admired guile and wit needed to outmaneuver the powers of aristocracy, state and church, just as they saw the fox use these same qualities to raid their livestock under cover of darkness.” Maybe this is a strategy to adopt in urban spaces a lot more. Instead of adjusting our lives to the omnipresence of the ‘public’ observation the secondary, tertiary live/perspective of the city has to be activated as a call for more responsibility and negotiation.

Watch the full 18min fox clip HERE, unfortunately on a single screen all cut into one. Movie description: A fox named Bandit, was let loose by Belgian artist Francis Alys as the gallery’s surveillance cameras recorded his every move for his latest work. 18min video installation.

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The current map exhibition at the Britsh Library is still on and it is big, really big. There are far more examples and beautiful maps than I had expected. However I was a bit disappointed that there are exclusively old maps, apart from a few contemporary artists takes on mapping. The exhibition manages a few things, it brings together a large collection of very old maps, covering the past 500 years. It presents scientific aspects of mapmaking as well as cultural and social aspects. In fact there is a strong emphasis on the cultural aspect of maps, how they comunicate and manifest wealth and status. In this sense they are presented less in a scientific sense but an cultural. Maybe this explains the absence of modern maps and the presence of artists impressions.
For me the fascinating aspect of the exhibition are the many different roles maps have played and the much more holistic approach to map making cartographers applied in these early days. The rich illustrations the additional informations around the outside the characters that were as important as the symbols. Compared to this richness the clean and ‘objective’ maps of today apear really boring.
One of the most beautiful maps in the exhibition is Diogo Homem’s ‘A Chart of the Mediterranean Sea, 1570. A map of the Mediterranean only showing the shorelines, in a very imaginative abstraction decorated with colours and gold.
Another impressive object is the Hereford Mappa Mundi c1300. Its name meaning ‘cloth of the world’ and it is drawn on calf skin. The BBC documentarie discussed it at length. Fascinating is the way the map combines different times of past and present as well as eternity into the same picture. Also it combines knowledge and myths, believe and culture as elements of the same whole. In this sense it shows as much of the known as of the unknown and also presents the beginning as well as the end. This cyclical aspect ist the key to its power.

image description
Image taken from Wikipedia / Hereford Mappa Mundi, about 1300, Hereford Cathedral, England. A classic “T-O” map with Jerusalem at center and east toward the top. Find a version with description HERE.

At the heart of the map is Jerusalem and the main orientation is East. Of course this reflects a very christian world view but historically this is important. In temporal terms the map depicts events separated by hundreds of years. There are activities such as the Caesar sending out helpers to map the world, the Arche Noah and the crucifixion of Christ in the same image representing the history of the world. Outside the disc of the world additional scenes put it into context. There is judgement day at the top of the map and the passage to another world at the bottom of the world. Interestingly the disc of the world is fastened to the surrounding eternity by the letters M, O, R, S – latin for death. This all sits in the context of the late medieval world view, but surprisingly to me this represents a sort of inside out understanding of life, a sort of progress from the centre to the edge and beyond. This narrative approach to mapping was for me the exciting and surprising part.

I have to say immediately after seeing the exhibition I was a bit disappointed not to see the art of map making progress through to the current state. However the more I thought about it, the more I realised how much of the detail and additional aspects of old maps would have been distracted from by new maps purely focused on technology.
The BBC does present the topic on their website, the Beauty of Maps, in two parts of them one are the old maps and the other part are the modern maps. This includes for examples Google Earth or MapTube, a platform to create and share maps.

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Nai Publishers have kindly supplied me with a brand new print of the ‘Functional City’. Some of you might remember the earlier review of the book. The copy I had was printed with a Dutch introduction, whilst the book was in English. The new copy has just arrived and I would like to update this review with a look at the introduction.
The introduction sets out the context of the book and especially focuses on the role van Esteren plays, both within the modernist CIAM group as well as in the book. This is important as the book does both at the same time. It redraws activities of CIAM but also focuses on van Esteren as, at times, the CIAM’s chairman. The introduction makes cleaver use of an event, the exhibition ‘The Functional City’ that took place in 1935 at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. Along this, presented as the climax of the CIAM activities the events are rolled up from the back to give broad overview of the details to following in the book.
One large, some 5m long ‘historical table’ graphically visualised the history of the city. Surprisingly it showed the development of the city as a result of economical, technical and social forces. This is surprising in so far, that in general the term ‘social’ and ‘functional’ does not necessarily go well together. But maybe this also points out that the modernist understanding of ‘functional’ was in fact not as machine like a we construct it.
The material and the way it was prepared showed clearly the guiding principle of the CIAM, ‘first the analysis and only afterwards the synthetic work, the design’
Van Esteren stated that ‘the expression ‘functional city’ best conveys what we expect from a well designed city’. He took the human body as a metaphor to explain how the health of the whole is important for individual elements to function properly.
Van Esteren pointed out that the architects contribution to urban design was necessary for the designing of good extension plans. His main concern where residential districts and its facilities. He justified the architects involvement in urban planning with ‘he (the architect) is the one who determines the physiognomy of the plan.’ He goes on explaining ‘the goal is to archive an equilibrium of all of the factors that are of importance for the people to enjoy living their lives. These insights, based on the results of the previous congresses, inexorably drove us to urban planning.’ Interesting here is that it appears as if the group is trying to justify it move towards urban planning. They saw them selves as architects in the first place, but now took on a different field. This might have two aspects to it. One is that the exclusivity of the architect as the maestro and genius designing a house for a most probably rich customer is not exactly mass compatible. Most people will never be in the position to afford this sort exclusivity. And secondly the impact (and if you want satisfaction) is not nearly as a large of an individual building as if you take on the whole city. In conjunction with this goes the installment of truth with the plan and the resulting power.
I think this should not be seen as a negative aspect to modernist movement, but rather the discovery of the responsibility of planning. The exhibition probably showed above all the struggle with a newly discovered possibility, both factual and emotional.
In this sense the ‘Functional City’ can be seen, as the introduction to the book points out, as Berlage’s conception architecture as a social art.

The idea of the ‘Functional City’ is as I think in relation to today’s conception of the city crucial. Also regarding the topic of cycles the idea of the urbanMachine is based on this construction. I have now just finished a paper on this subject for my upgrade early next month. I will post bits and pieces of it here in the coming weeks.

Image by Cornelis van Esteren, taken from cultuurwijzer.nl – Title ‘Het Algemeen Uitbreidingsplan van Amsterdam’ (the extension plan for Amsterdam.

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Image by MArch Urban Design – Invitation Flyer

The Bartlett School of Architecture calls for the MArch Annual Show 2009. The Master of Arts course students present their work at the Wates House, 22 Gordon Street. The bash starts from 17h30 on the ground floor of the Wates House. Work presented will be from both, MArch Architecture students as well as MArch Urban Design students.
The Urban Design students present their work under the title CurioCities. They have been working on the topic of Urban Mutations and produced an impressive wealth of project. As usual each students background played a key role and helped shaping the diversity again archived
in this years fifty something projects. Some project impressions can be found on UD-unit-06.

Image by Zahra Aziz, urban curiosity and memory

Image by urbanTick – SpeeD Daria Shipukhina and Stavroula Papafotiou, Adaptive toolkit for urban growth. Tactile urbanism.

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Image taken from richardlong.org – One Hour, a six minute circle walk on Dartmoor 1984

Currently there is a large Richard Long exhibition on at the Tate Britain in London with the “Heaven and Earth“ exhibition until 06 of September 2009. It is the first large exhibition of the British artist in eighteen years. The exhibition features sculptures, large scale mud wall works and old and new photographic and text works. Also important to mention is the addition room with a large collection of his books, where some real jewels of publication can be seen.
Why featuring a landscape artist on the blog in the context of rhythms and movement? There are several reasons ranging from aspects of time, use of space and movement to aspects of mapping and visualization. On the Tate Britain website the work is introduced and traced back to Long’s love of nature and environmental experience.
A lot of his works are temporal, maybe most of them. While working with the landscape obviously the method of documenting the work becomes central. Especially in Long’s work as a lot of his landscape works derive from the interaction of body and landscape or the reaction of the artist to the landscape. The methods he uses to document this interaction range from taking a picture of his interventions to mapping his activities. His installations of large scale stone circles and mud wall drawings can also be seen in the context of documenting. Long brings elements of the nature into the exhibition spaces being totally aware of the transformation related to context.
The aspect of time plays a major role in all works but is particularly present in the photographs that document works he as produced/performed in remote places, like for example ”a line made by walking“.
Long appears in most of his works as the actor and a driven personality. It seems like he just can’t stop doing this. Particularly in his works of walks he is restless and eager to move. Also here the time plays a major role as a defining element, maybe even a tool to stop Long from simply keep on walking. Works such as “One Hour – a sixty minute walk on Darthmoor“ or “A five day walk”.
The mapping of his walks covers a number of additional topics including the aspect of space and space limitation. The geometry of the circle is Longs main element and features in his sculptures, installations, but also his walks as confining or excluding boundaries. In a sense some of his maps can be read as a different type of space-time diagrams.

Image taken from richardlong.org – A Line Made by Walking, England 1967

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